Here is the story of our annual trip to England to visit my parents there. This year, we decided that
for the first time, the entire family would spend Christmas together in London, including my wife's
parents and her aunt. I do apologize up front for the lack of pictures, as I'm not a good
photographer, and both our flights were overnight, making picture-taking very difficult.
My brother and sister in-law booked their tickets very early, so they got a good deal, while my wife
and I kept putting it off, waiting until the end of September to book. This worked in our favor
though, as the price difference between World Traveler and World Traveler Plus was only $100 each
way! As I am fairly tall (6'5"), and value legroom when travelling, we gladly booked the higher
class, and the eager waiting began.
Photo © Mark Kwiatkowski
Apologies for the poor quality- this abused boarding pass has been tucked in the cover of my kindle case for over a week.
I had taken the day off from work, but was still up at my usual 5am wake-up time as there was still a
lot to do before heading off to the airport- like packing! I had checked in the night before, and the
WTP cabin looked rather full- only a handful of empty seats scattered throughout the cabin. We got to
Dulles a bit before the check-in opened at 3pm, and we were second in line at the bag drop, which was
good, as by the time check-in opened, the line was rather long. Once the bags were gone, we breezed
through security (well, I did- my wife kept setting off the metal detector -the nude-o-scopes were
not in use that day- so she got the standard TSA grope-down) and made our way to the gate, B44. As we
got to the gate, I got a text from my brother that they had just arrived at the airport as well, and
after a bit they joined us at the gate. We took a quick stroll down the length of the A/B terminal,
admiring the LH 748 and comparing and contrasting the AF A380 parked next to the KL 74M - a very nice
equipment swap from the usual A332.
Boarding started a bit late, around 530 for our 6pm departure, but went surprisingly quickly. The
load looked to be almost 100% with the only empty seat in WTP being the one in front of me, and I
didn't see any empty seats in Club World or World Traveler. The seat itself was comfy, but I found
the rather large IFE box at the aisle seat to be irritating. We pushed a few minutes late, and made
our way to RWY 1R for departure. Our plane didn't appear to have the upgraded IFE system, so it
wasn't turned on until we had passed 10,000 feet and I switched to the moving map and read while
waiting for the movies to begin. My wife had only gotten 2-3 hours of sleep the night before, and
announced she wanted to sleep, and was out cold almost as soon as we were airborne. Dinner began with
the usual drink service, and I had a bourbon, followed by dinner which was a choice of the usual
steak and potatoes, or cheese manicotti with a butternut squash sauce with a salad and a slice of
carrot cake. I had the steak, which wasn't bad, with a glass of red wine. According to my brother,
the meal choices in WT were the same manicotti, or a chicken curry, which he pronounced borderline
inedible. By the time the meal was over and the trays taken away, we were passing St. John's
Newfoundland. I settled in and watched 'The Sweeney' before taking a stroll around the cabin before
falling into a fitful sleep while watching 'The Campaign'. The cabin temperature felt too warm for my
liking, so I kept waking up. I gave up trying to sleep as we approached the Irish coast, and traded
my seat with my wife when she got up and wanted to walk around and stretch her legs. I did find the
window seat, with its lack of a large IFE box, to be much more comfortable. Shortly thereafter,
'breakfast' was served- a very small and dense orange muffin and a cup of coffee. We had made up our
brief delay enroute, and were now early, so we made a circuit or two of the holding pattern northwest
of Heathrow, before arriving shortly after 6am on RWY 9L. Of course, since it was pouring rain out,
we were parked at a remote gate, meaning a dash without cover from the plane to the bus. Immigration
wasn't too painful, and our bags were waiting on the carousel for us. Since we knew we would have a
fair amount of luggage, we had arranged for a car to pick us up at Heathrow, and 2 hours after
landing we had arrived at our parent's house.
A few pics of our travels around London-
And while we couldn't make Duxford this time, I was able to sneak over to the RAF museum for a few hours, planned maintenance on the Tube's Northern line be dammned.
My home airport!
Long live the Spitfire.
Whoever thought to put the code 'PO-S' on a Lancaster needs to be shot.
Photo © Carsten Sekula
The intervening week flew by, much as we expected, and sadly, it was soon time to check-in for our
flight home. When I went to check-in, I saw the outer bulkhead was open, so I grabbed seats 21AB for
the flight home. The car picked us up at the house at 2pm, and despite some roadwork on the way, made
decent time to Heathrow, and were dropped off in front of T5 at 310pm, giving us plenty of time for
our 5pm departure. Bag drop was quick, as there was no line, but security was painful- the line was
short, but everyone was setting off the metal detector, so everyone was getting patted down, so that
took a while, but we were in the T5 shopping mall by 330pm, with promises our gate would be announced
at 345pm. While waiting we browsed the duty free, and once the gate was called, went off to C52 to
continue waiting. When we got to the gate, there was a family with a baby in full-on meltdown mode. I
saw the father's ticket, which said '31F'. I asked my brother where they were sitting, and said '30D
and E'. I pointed out the other guy's ticket, and all my brother said was a terse 'F**k'. Boarding
started with the usual pre-boards- and there were a lot, as there were multiple families with small
children, followed by First and Club World, then World Traveler. My brother and sister in-law were
some of the first WT passengers up to the gate, but they were standing at the podium for a few
minutes, and were then sent to a different podium, before my brother turns, looks at me, smiles, and
heads down the escalator to the jetway. Eventually, my wife and I make our way to the podium, where
both our boarding passes are rejected by the scanner. The gate agent types away at her computer,
prints out 2 new passes, scans them and announces 'the flight is oversubscribed' before handing us
them, and sending us on our way. We head down the escalator and see the magic words "Involuntary
Upgrade" and the seats 15E and F- we're in Club World; what a wonderful late Christmas present from
Once the shock wears off, my wife looks at me and says 'Your brother is going to kill us'. Once
onboard, we make our way to our seats, the middle pair in the last row of Club World, and I put my
carry-on in the overhead bin, turn around and see my brother and his wife in seats 21J and K- BA had
upgraded them as well! We laughed at our good luck, and bid each other a pleasant flight. Not long
after boarding, I feel the aircraft moving, and notice we're being pushed back. Club World was maybe
60% full- we had the middle block of 4 seats to ourselves, and most rows were only half full. Both
World Traveler and World Traveler Plus were 100% full.
One of many empty seats in the Club World cabin.
The Flight Attendants came around with pre- departure drinks, and we both had the Champagne. Taxi out was long as we made our way to RWY 27R. Once airborne, I pulled out my PTV screen and browsed the movie options as the flight attendants passed out the menus and began the first of two drink services before dinner.
There were plenty of
choices for movies, but in the end, I decided to set up a music playlist and watched the moving map
while I read. I asked for the prawns and beef, but was told they were out, so I had the sea bream
instead. My wife wound up ordering the same options. While I waited for dinner, I had a couple of
bourbons before settling on the Chardonnay once the prawns arrived. The pace of the meal service was
nice, with the individual courses being served as we were ready for them, but without feeling rushed.
Once the plate for the prawns was taken away, the fish arrived, and both were really tasty, so I did
not regret not getting my first choice. Dessert was the apple crisp, accompanied by a cup of coffee
and a cognac, while my wife went for Bailey's with her coffee.
As we finish dinner...
Semi-obligatory legroom shot-
By this point, we were south of Iceland, and with the dinner tray cleared away, I reclined my seat a
bit and settled in, while my wife reclined her seat flat and fell asleep.
I spent most of the flight reading, getting up a few times to walk around the cabin and grab a diet coke from the bar set up by the galley. I did doze off around Nova Scotia, but was woken up when the flight attendants started
the pre-arrival tea service.
Tea as we near New Hampshire-
This was the standard BA pre-arrival service, with the 3 sandwiches listed on the menu accompanied by a tasteless chocolate cupcake and some coffee. This service and the pre-arrival preparations were rushed, as the captain wanted the cabin crew seated early due to anticipated turbulence caused by weather around DC. As predicted, the flight began to get fairly bumpy as we crossed over the Maryland border, and remained so until we made a firm arrival back on
RWY 1L at Dulles shortly after 8pm. Taxi was fast, and all too soon we were disembarking. Immigration
and customs was fast- we beat United flights from FRA, CUN, SAL, and MBJ to immigration so our wait
was fairly short, but the line was quite long by the time we were through. Sadly, one of our bags
wasn't loaded on the plane in Heathrow, which was very irritating, but the BA employee at the baggage
counter was nice and sympathetic to our plight, and the bag was delivered to our house the next day.
From there it was back to the car and we were home by 920, bringing our Christmas vacation to an end.
Overall, this was a great pair of flights from BA- the crews on both flights were wonderful, and the
upgrade on the flight home a nice surprise missing suitcase notwithstanding. Thanks for reading and
any comments are appreciated!